Part 1, Stage 4, Sorting

11 October 2016


Sorting always presents me with a dilemma, not helped by the fact that I make a lot of samples (141 for this assignment). It’s easy to choose samples work well as stand alone entities, but much more difficult to select those with potential; for instance, just because I can’t see the potential in a sample now, doesn’t mean I won’t see potential in say 6 months or a years time. It could simply be that right now I’m not aware of what context in which it could be used, or other samples or techniques that would enhance it. For this reason I like to ‘park’ samples rather than disregarding them. 

I shall use this post to reflect on my working practices, outcomes as a whole, select and describe samples which have worked well and those for which I can see clear lines of development.


Working practices:

Because I did not have experience of several of the exercises, I started with very basic samples and systematically worked through them. The exception was project 3, exercise 2 (using a heat gun) which I covered briefly in “A creative approach”, assignment 3 (Eastaugh, 2015a) and and project 5, exercise 2 (stitching) which I covered in “A creative approach” assignment 1 (Eastaugh, 2015b). I tried purposely to be more creative and playful in my approach this time round, and was mindful to build upon rather than repeat the exercises I had already worked on in previous modules.

I thought carefully about lighting and orientation and viewed my samples in different configurations as part of the assessment process. I referenced the work of other artists when considering the context in which my samples might be used and how they might be developed. I thought about scale (large and small) and the merits of repetition vs. a stand a alone statement piece. I considered how I might create harmony through colour, pattern, shape, or texture and how elements like contrast of colour, texture or composition might be used to create drama and tension.

General comments on outcomes:

Reviewing each exercise and selecting the samples which I liked or had potential seemed to be a good place to start. This gave me an overview of my work and enabled me to make some general comments on the outcomes as a whole:

  • In terms of outcome, my favourite exercises were: Project 2, Exercise 5, “Flaps” and Project 5, Exercise 2, “Stitching”, (although stitching was worked partly in combination with other techniques). What I discovered when working the exercise on flaps was a surprising versatility of 3-D forms which could be achieved with just a simple piece of cut paper. Stitching  a technique which I knew I could produce interesting result, having used it for my sketchbook work in previous modules. 
  • Some samples were only interesting when lit from the front so as to produce shadows (an example being sample 1 of Project 3, Exercise 3)
  • For samples which rely of shadows for their appeal, I preferred those which use plain material as opposed to patterned. This is because the forms of the shadows can be better appreciated and there is no additional patterning to confuse or detract.
  • Photography enhanced some images compared with with when they are viewed using the naked eye (In particular, I’m thinking of Project 3, Exercise 3, “Using hot water” and particularly the photography of samples when they were lit from behind)
  • I found that the results of Project 4, Exercise 2 (scratching) were generally very subtle and it was difficult to imagine how I would use them directly in a finished piece. For me, their greatest potential would appear to be to translate them to another medium (maybe photographing and using that image – enlarging, colour modifying, multiplying?) or alternatively using them to make a rubbing.
  • For the exercises involving pleats, small scale worked better than large scale.

The fact that some successful samples require specific lighting conditions and/or placement in order to look at their best provides a dilemma for the distance learning student. Some samples are so fragile, as to require setting up “in situ” (project 1, exercise 5 (crumpling) and the specific display conditions which might be needed for a piece to work are unlikely to be reproduced at assessment. 

Comments on specific samples:

I have made detailed analyses of what I like and dislike about each sample, relationships with the work of other artists and ideas for development in the blog posts for each exercise, so it seems pointless to repeat it again here.

If I had to choose specific samples to take forward I would definitely focus on Project 1, exercise 5 (Flaps). One of the main reason for this choice is the successful visual outcomes of samples 3, 4, and 5 (see thumbnails below from left to right). 


However, I also find the idea that each sample can be displayed in a multitude of configurations very appealing, and sample 3 is an example of just how successful this approach can be (see thumbnails below). It was an idea which first came to me through the work of Sheila Hicks, who frequently reconfigures and reworks her pieces to suit the gallery or space in which they are to be viewed. The outcomes can be quite different – as if there were two distinct but related pieces. 


As I mentioned in my general comments, the addition of pattern did not improve the visual outcome of samples in exercise 5 (flaps), so I would stick with plain or subtle textured materials. The shadow effects are dramatic but there were wonderful subtle effects from using acetate (sample 8 – see thumbnails below), which could possibly be combined with other techniques, such as folding, to create a 3-d structure.


There is no denying that exercise 5 (flaps) and  exercise 4 (cut holes) of project 1 are closely related, so I would consider the results two exercises together when deciding what direction to take my enquiry. Size and spacing of holes and flaps are important compositional decisions which influence whether a piece evokes feelings of animation, tension, calmness, and much can be learnt from the outcomes of exercise 4.

Stitching (project 5, exercise 2) was another favourite. In contrast with the other exercises, which I mostly approached systematically and in isolation, I allowed myself the freedom to combine techniques of folding, punching and flap cutting. In my opinion, these combined techniques gave most successful outcomes (see thumbnails below – from left to right, samples 11, 12, 13 and 14)



There was a valuable lesson to be learnt from the outcome of sample 15 of exercise 5, project 2 (see thumbnail below), regarding giving over a larger percentage of the sample area to cut-outs/holes/negative space to obtain more interesting shadows. Whilst sample 15 was not my favourite overall for visual outcome, I would consider using a greater proportion of negative space as a line of enquiry in future sampling.


Following on from this, the use of wire is another line of enquiry which is worth exploring. Sample 15 of project 5, exercise 2 (above) also showed that wire can be used both as a thread and to form and sculpture material which would otherwise be too floppy into a self-supporting 3-D shape. The appeal of simplicity was also demonstrated through the successful visual outcome of project 3, exercise 2, sample 14 (see thumbnail below). In common with sample 3 of project 2, exercise 5, it is configurable in a many different ways. It is certainly a line of enquiry worthy of further exploration.


One theme which I have enjoyed exploring through sampling is the contrast between regularity and order, and irregularity and disorder. Sample 13 of project 5, exercise 2 is an example of this with its symmetrically punches identically sized holes contrasted with loose, deliberately untidy threads.

As well as selecting successful outcomes for future development, my consideration of the work of other artists in relation to my samples will very much influence my choice of which line of enquiry to pursue. The work of Kazuhito Takadoi (Takadoi, n.d.), in particular has interested me because of the use of very fine threads and the idea of transience and decay. It is a theme which I started to explore through my use of very fine threads in samples 5 and 14 of project 5, exercise 2 (stitching), and the successful use of plant material in sample 12 of project 5, exercise 1 (puncturing). Thumbnails of these samples (in the order listed above from left to right) are shown below by means of illustration. 


By thinking about my samples in the context of a wider narrative, the analogies that I have made have prompted ideas on the direction of future sampling and development. The most compelling of these comparisons has been the idea of sutures which arose from samples 11 and 12 of project 5, exercise 2 (see thumbnail below). 


This has prompted me to think about types sutures used in surgery as a possible line of enquiry for Assignment 2, project 1. The work of both Anne Wilson in her “Dispersions”  series (Wilson, n.d.), (Mitchison, 201:154-155) and Rosanne Hawsley’s “Seamstress and the sea” series (Hawksley, 2016) were very influential in this respect.


How I selected samples to send into my tutor:

It was not practical to send all of my samples to my tutor. My choice has been guided as follows:


  • The entirety of Project 5, Exercise 2 (stitching) – this is probably my most creative exercise, and includes some of my best samples. By sending all of them, I hope that my tutor will glean an understanding of my thought process and creative development throughout the exercise.
  • I decided not to attempt to send samples which are too fragile or which are unlikely to retain their shape when packaged and transported by post). This ruled out all of Project 1, Exercise 5 (basic crumpling) and samples which have already degraded since they were made (e.g. The ivy leaf sample from Project 5, Exercise 1, and the sample made from decorators’ general purpose filler from Project 4, Exercise 2).
  • I am sending all of the samples which I have sketched (with the exception of the three samples in Project 1, exercise 5, “basic crumpling”, for reasons mentioned above, and sample 11 from Project 5, exercise 1 “puncturing”, which I have unfortunately misplaced).
  • Those samples which I have specifically mentioned above as being successful visual outcomes and/or having greatest potential for further development.



Eastaugh, N. (2015a) At: (Accessed 11 October 2016)

Eastaugh, N. (2015b) At: (Accessed 19 October 2016)

Hawksley, R. (2016) Rozanne Hawksley: Work – The seamstress and the sea. At: (Accessed 19 October 2016)

Mitchison, L. (2012) ‘Out of the Ordinary’ In: Kettle, A. and McKeating, J. (Eds) Hand Stitch Perspectives. London. Bloomsbury. pp. 154-157.

Takadoi (n.d.) Kazuhito Takadoi: Work. At: (Accessed 11 October 2016)

Wilson, A. (n.d.) Anne Wilson: Projects, Dispersions. At: (Accessed 19 October 2016)


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